Norwood dedicates new Town Hall as debate over brunch bill starts

Legislation passed this sumer would allow towns to allow alchol sales at 10am on Sundays

Bartender Kim Moore makes a drink at Tupelo Honey Cafe in Raleigh, Saturday, June 24, 2017. (Eamon Queeney / North State Journal)
Norwood Town Administrator John Mullis

NORWOOD — The town of Norwood officially dedicated its new Town Hall last week with a ceremony before its regularly town council meeting. The new building is home to the town’s municipal government operations and fire department.

“We took a vacant building, the old SunTrust Bank building, and turned it into the new Town Hall,” said town administrator John Mullis.

The new Town Hall also serves the community more efficiently as it offers additional space for government meetings and other events. On top of the larger meeting space, the new facility has a conference room that serves as a spot for closed sessions of the commissioners.

“The meeting space now can hold approximately 89 people versus the old one which could hold around 30 people,” said Robbie Cohen, a town council member.

For day-to-day functions of government, the new building features a drive-thru to allow for bill payments without having to park. “We have a drive-thru at the north side of the building where people can pay their utility bills, more parking and a larger meeting space,” said Mullis.

Mullis described the Town Hall as “new and fresh.”

Combining the fire department and Town Hall under one roof is a departure from Norwood’s previous setup, but Cohen thinks it is an efficient use of space. “Combining it with the fire department is making the downtown area better,” said Cohen.

The town has invested about $200,000 in repairs and renovations for the new facility, but it might have dodged a costlier repair bill had it stayed in their old facility. Once the deconstruction of the old building began, the town found out how that it had likely avoided significant repair costs for their aging former home.

“We actually dodged a bullet, because once they started tearing the old Town Hall down they realized not only did the roof need to be replaced, but a lot of the steel as well which would have been very costly,” said Cohen.

As the dedication gave way to the regular meeting, the new meeting room saw discussion on the contentious issue of water transfer from Lake Tillery and the new authority given to Norwood and all other municipal governments under the so-called “Brunch Bill” which became law this summer.

No significant action was taken with the respect to the interbasin transfer deal that will result in Union County drawing water from the Yadkin River through a new water intake on Lake Tillery.

Commissioners Cohen and Wes Hartsell, along with the Mullis, provided a mathematical explanation to what the water levels would be after a resident voiced their concerns. They say that when stream inflows are calculated, the impact on water-level is almost nonexistent.

As many cities and towns across N.C. have moved to expand alcohol sells on Sundays from noon to 10am under the bill, Norwood took a step toward that result. An ordinance will be presented at the next board meeting. The council will then discuss and decide if they would like to take action or not.

The council did take action on two resolutions by approving a single Request for Financing for the Town Hall and 141 Blalock St., which is the new public works office. The Blalock Street purchase was for $449,000 and the resolution will allow the town to refinance the building. The second resolution allows for the Town Hall to be appraised according to what the lender requires. The council approved financing of up to $400,000 for the Town Hall property.

The next meeting of the Norwood Town Council will be Monday, Oct. 16, at 6 p.m.